The Burton Blog

US Open Riders to Watch: Taku Hiraoka

Returning to defend his 2015 Burton U.S. Open halfpipe title, 20 year-old Taku Hiraoka is poised to build on an already impressive list of accolades.

Reminding us all what it means to be a halfpipe champion Taku’s riding blends unmatched amplitude with absolute style. Whatever the height of the average air is on any given day, Taku’s going two feet higher, and isn’t making any sacrifices—always a proper grab, fully tweaked, and with a savage aggressiveness. A smudged landing or lame trick is simply not an option.   

Taku flying over the channel gap at Peace Park 2015. P: Blotto

Age: 20 
Nationality: Japan
Stance: Regular / 22" Wide / 15° Front / -9° Back
Home Resort: Takasu Snowpark

Hailing from Nara, Japan, Taku started turning heads in 2009, and has gradually built a strong list of achievements at some of the world’s biggest contests. Last season he took full ownership of his spot among the halfpipe elite after taking an Olympic bronze medal in 2014, followed by an X Games silver in 2015, a standout mention at Danny DavisPeace Park, and a commanding win at the 2015 Burton U.S. Open. If you’re still not convinced, just watch his first hit in the halfpipe, and by the time he lands you’ll know what Taku Hiraoka is all about. 

It seems like there are more and more Japanese riders entering the contest circuit. What’s the halfpipe scene like in Japan? 

The halfpipe scene in Japan is picking up, and many snowboarders are interested. Unfortunately, there are only a few resorts where we can ride pipe.


Taku Hiraoka, massive first hit at the Burton U.S. Open. P: Blotto

What’s your idea of a great halfpipe run? 

When both my riding and my feelings are the best they can be, and the audience—and myself—is satisfied with my run.

It seems like you’re always charging, what do you do when you’re just riding for fun?

Just riding for fun with my friends without any pressures.

What do you look for in snowboarding?

It is a big part of my life, and it teaches me so many things. There’s a lot of pressure, but I get better when I overcome it—and I love that feeling.

Looking for the podium in Sochi.
Hiking for another hit.

How do you feel coming out of a season like the one you had last year?

In order to come out with good results like last season, I need to practice and compete with a lot of pressure. It feels so great coming out of a season like last year: Everything pays off. ∆